Skip to content

‘Twitter Files’ part 3 details Trump’s ban after Jan. 6 Capitol riot

  • by

Twitter executives decided to ban then-President Donald Trump from their social media platform after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, while maintaining regular check-ins with the FBI and other federal authorities as they decided what postings should be targeted for censorship, the latest report from new company CEO Elon Musk reveals.

In one of a series of tweets Friday evening, independent journalist Matt Taibbi said internal company messages showed how Twitter’s internal standards eroded during the months leading up to Jan. 6, with high-ranking executives violating their own policies while interacting with various federal agencies.

Taibbi posted messages that he said “show Twitter executives getting a kick out of intensified relationships with federal agencies.”

In one, Yoel Roth, then Twitter’s head of trust and safety, appears to describe how he struggled to disguise the purpose of weekly meetings with FBI and other government officials that helped guide the company’s decisions on policing posts on its platform.

“I’m a big believer in calendar transparency. But I reached a certain point where my meetings became…very interesting…to people and there weren’t meeting names generic enough to cover,” he wrote.

In response, someone whose identity is obscured, suggested, “Very Boring Business Meeting That Is Definitely Not About Trump :)”

Another message shows Yoel Roth, lamenting the personal fallout from Twitter’s apparently on-the-fly decision to suppress The Post’s exclusive, October 2020 scoop about Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop on the unfounded assertion it was based on “hacked materials.”

“We blocked the NYP story, then we unblocked it (but said the opposite)…and now we’re in a messy situation where our policy is in shambles, comms [public relations] is angry, reporters think we’re idiots and refactoring an exceedingly complex policy 18 days out from the election,” he wrote.

Roth added: “In short, FML [f–k my life].

Taibbi said some redacted messages showed “the internal debate leading to Trump’s ban.”

One message said, “we currently analyze tweets and consider them at a tweet-by-tweet basis which does not appropriately take into account the context surrounding.”

It continued, “you can use the yelling fire into a crowded theater example — context matters and the narrative that trump and his friends have pursued over the course of this election and frankly last 4+ years must be taken into account.”

Taibbi wrote, “Before J6, Twitter was a unique mix of automated, rules-based enforcement, and more subjective moderation by senior executives.”

“As the election approached, senior executives — perhaps under pressure from federal agencies, with whom they met more as time progressed — increasingly struggled with rules, and began to speak of ‘vios’ [violations] as pretexts to do what they’d likely have done anyway,” he added.

Before banning Trump, Twitter execs started slapping his tweets with warning labels and on Dec. 10, 2020, Taibbi said, a message shows that “Twitter executives announced a new ‘L3 deamplification’ tool” to also limit users from sharing Trump’s messages.

“Some executives wanted to use the new deamplification tool to silently limit Trump’s reach more right away,” Taibbi wrote.

Taibbi said the first tweet under consideration included a video of US Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) appearing on the conservative Newsmax cable TV station over the false claim that “Trump got 11 million more votes.”

“However, in the end, the team had to use older, less aggressive labeling tools at least for that day, until the ‘L3 entities’ went live the following morning,” Taibbi wrote.

“The significance is that it shows that Twitter, in 2020 at least, was deploying a vast range of visible and invisible tools to rein in Trump’s engagement, long before J6. The ban will come after other avenues are exhausted.”

Taibbi’s tweets came a day after fellow independent journalist Bari Weiss posted photos showing how Twitter used secret tools to “shadow ban” certain users and suppress their posts on the platform.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya was put on Twitter’s “Trends Blacklist” after arguing against COVID-19 lockdowns, leading him to tweet Thursday, “I’m curious about what role the government played in Twitter’s suppression of covid policy discussion.”

“We will see with time, I suppose,” he added.

Conservative commentators Dan Bongino, a Fox News host, and radio host and conservative activist Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA were also put on a “Search Blacklist” and slapped with a “Do Not Amplify” label, respectively.

Bongino fumed on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Thursday night that his treatment was “some Soviet-style bulls–t” and Kirk tweeted Friday, “We’ll never know how different the country would be had they never put their thumb on the scale.”

“All of this is evil, un-American, and it should be criminal,” Kirk added.

Last week, Taibbi kicked off the series of “Twitter Files” tweets by revealing internal documents tied to the company’s suppression of The Post’s October 2020 scoop about Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop.

“They even blocked its transmission via direct message, a tool hitherto reserved for extreme cases, e.g. child pornography,” he wrote.

Taibbi said a former employee told him that “everyone knew this was f–ked.

”But the company’s “response was to essentially to err on the side of … continuing to err,” Taibbi said.

Additional installments — detailing internal Twitter communications on the two days following the Capitol attack — are scheduled to be posted Saturday and Sunday, Taibbi said Friday.